Curiosity Gap Recommends: ‘Yang Sheng: The Art Of Chinese Self-healing’ by Katie Brindle

With all of modern supposed advances, most of the people, when asked how they are, seem to reply that they are ‘tired, stressed, exhausted, anxious etc’. A sign that not all is right in[...] read more

Second Chances – how Bobbi Brown decided NOT to rest on her laurels

I think Bobbi Brown is one of those remarkably successful women, who many of us can, at least internally, relate to without feeling intimidated by the scope of her professional achievements. She is[...] read more

Mii News ‘Q & A’ with children’s author Kieran Larwood

Ever since I can remember myself, books were a big part of my life. Everyone in my family has been a voracious reader and one of my grandfather’s was an illustrator for  one of Russia’s[...] read more

Kids half-term & lessons learnt

I don’t know about you, but in the run up to my kids school holidays I get a bit antsy, wondering how to best entertain them, yet also get work things done too, as I work from home. Lately I seem to have settled into a natural flow, where I dedicate time to kids during the day almost fully, trying to empty my mind by learning alongside them. I then put some of that new knowledge to good use in the evening, when they are in bed & I am back at my desk.

”Wonder is the very engine of life.” Ealing Kagge

We only had one long bank holiday weekend when I set down to pen this post, yet there are so many things that were done & which brought equal measures of frustration & pleasure.

  • I have heard a while back about a wonderful documentary called ‘Walk With Me’ about

[...] read more

Galina Loves Books: ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover

I don’t know, if I read fifty books annually, like Bill Gates is rumoured to, but I can’t imagine my daily life without reading a few pages, something that is as important for my brain, as it is for my soul. Some books are read & easily forgotten, while others make a huge impact, so much so, you talk or think about them for weeks & months on end. Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’ undoubtedly belongs in the latter category for me.

Initially I saw ‘Educated’ in my local Waterstones & some unseen force drew me to it. As I read about a third of it, riveted by every page & the precisely beautiful way that Tara writes, 5 x 15 hosted one of their events, where Tara was a speaker. A slight, blond young woman in her early thirties, she stood with gracious poise in the limelight, yet she also seemed contained & reserved. Tara has a Doctorate in her professional title, something made even more remarkable, for someone so young, by the fact that she wasn’t schooled in the way most of the children in the Western countries, including America, where Tara is from, are. She held the audience in the palm of her hand, as she talked about her book & read a passage from it, with quiet confidence that I found extraordinary, considering the turmoils of her life’s journey. I left the event deep in thought & even more impressed than before by the resilience, determination & talent.

Tara was born in rural Idaho to the Mormon parents. Her father raised his children by instilling the deep fear of the fast approaching End of Days, wielding unbelievable control over his vast family. He started by alienating his wife from her own family & friends, then proceeding to do the same with each of their children. ‘Us’ versus ‘The World’. And yet there is a sense that in some ways he did love his children & on occasion managed to show glimpses of it to Tara & her siblings, yet his true ‘loyalty’ rested with only those, who were firmly under his control. He was a contradictory man with mental issues, yet this wasn’t questioned by his wife, who chose to defer to him on most occasions. To say that relationships within the family were complicated would be an understatement.

Tara hasn’t been registered for a birth certificate, had no school records, as she didn’t attend classes, nor medical records, as her mother treated the children herself with homeopathy (in time growing a very successful business).

‘When I was a child, I waited for my mind to grow, for my experiences to accumulate and my choices to solidify, taking shape into the likeness of a person.[...] read more

In-Conversation with Lavanya Krishnan, co-founder of the Boxwalla

One of the reasons why I started my website many moons ago was an opportunity to interview incredibly talented people many of who, for a variety of reasons, don’t get to be in a spotlight, yet have an amazing affinity with us, impacting lives in the most wonderful ways. Founders of the Boxwalla, a husband & wife team who prefer their work & creativity to speak for themselves, shunning spotlight, fit this category perfectly.

Earlier this year I reviewed one of Boxwalla‘s book boxes & since then I was like a dog with a bone, intent on spotlighting Lavanya & her husband & telling you in more detail about the creative process behind each of their subscription boxes (dispatched every two months) & dedicated to beauty, book & film lovers around the world & food lovers in the US. And it’s not just what’s inside each subscriber’s box that matters, it’s the thought that went into choosing the box that houses the ‘treasures’. Each artisan box is fashioned from handmade paper, making it not just beautiful & practical, but sustainable too. The paper is made from cotton scraps from local garment industries & the actual process of making each box is time-intensive & traditional. Your recyclable & reusable box is made by local villagers, giving them a steady income in order to support their families & not just scrape a meagre living. That’s one of many reasons why I really treasure my Boxwalla as much as I do its contents & to me that’s just one aspect that makes this subscription service stand out head above the rest.

Lavanya & her husband love beauty in all forms & are intent on supporting small shops & artisans, paying attention to the tiniest details that matter to those of us, who aren’t after instant gratification. If like me, you prefer slowness  – be it when it comes to savouring a book, a glass of wine, a vial of a beauty product or a movie, then Boxwalla would fit perfectly into your lifestyle. Boxwallas, as Lavanya & her husband call themselves, come up with themes & weave a story for you about things to love, buy, keep or share, encouraging deeper connections in our flaky & fast-paced world. They offer you transformative & fun discoveries, as well as changes of existing perceptions into your life. Below are the Q & As with Lavanya – the actual process took a while, but I am happy to say that the answers turned out to be even more intriguing than I expected them to be.

What’s your professional background and what inspired you to start Boxwalla?

Lavanya: My academic background is in the Sciences. I have a PhD in an interdisciplinary psychology/neuroscience-related field, which involves applying principles from physics and engineering to Human Neuroscience.

My husband (aka business partner) and I wanted to create a platform that would allow us to showcase the artists and artisans, whose work we loved. But in a way that would allow people to easily experience their work while understanding the context that inspired their creation. And so we launched Boxwalla, as a bimonthly subscription box, showcasing four categories : Green/Clean Beauty, Artisanal Food, Literature and Art Cinema

We believe that in order to enjoy something more fully, it is important to understand its context : why that thing was made, what need it fulfills, what inspired the artist/artisans? And I think this applies not only to something like a beautiful painting or film but also to things we read like books, and the things we use, like perfume and skincare,

We are inspired by small, independent businesses where the passion and knowledge of the owner is so evident in everything they create or curate. Like independent bookstores, where you can chat with the bookshop owner about life, books and their own reading preferences, independent music stores with an owner so deeply knowledgable about a very niche category of music. There is something very special about connecting directly with people who create or curate the products one enjoys. I think these connections make the experience of the product even more enjoyable. And we are inspired, not only to showcase businesses that provide this kind of excellent service, but also to form these personal connections ourselves, with our own subscribers and customers.

We are inspired by excellence in every field and most of the time, we find this excellence, in work produced by independent, artisanal businesses and so we felt and still feel compelled & inspired to share their work with the world.

Here is a more detailed post on what inspired us to create Boxwalla, that I wrote a while ago :

What does Boxwalla mean and why did you choose it to call your business?

Lavanya: Boxwalla literally means ‘Box-person’ or ‘Box-seller’ in Hindi (which is one of many Indian languages). It also refers to the traveling merchants who carried their wares in large boxes. ‘Walla Walla’ is the Native American term for ‘place of many waters’. So we think of ourselves as traveling merchants. getting drunk on things of many waters, and then sharing those things with our subscribers.

What were your favourite childhood books?

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CRiL reviews: Emma Cannon new book ‘Fertile: Nourish & Balance Your Body Ready for Baby Making’

In a world obsessed with youth & good looks, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the whirlwind & keep focus on the things that truly matter, like our emotional & physical health & wellbeing. When we are in our 20s, the issue fertility remains far from our minds, in fact many of us dread getting pregnant & would rather enjoy freedom, fun & building up professional experiences & career. By the time we reach 30s & 40s, when many women long to become mothers, the subject takes centre stage, but we have to face the fact that our past lifestyle choices might have had a negative impact on our fertile state. A recently published book ‘Fertile’ by the fertility expert & writer Emma Cannon is a knowledgable guide to the state of your body & mind, irrespective of your age & motherhood ambitions. In a nutshell, it will help you be in tune with your feminine force.

Emma is serene & charming. No matter what is going on outside her treatment room, she radiates inner calm that is often missing from modern lifestyle. I have seen her during my pregnancies & every time left her treatment room with a calmer head & body, with the treatment effect lasting for days. Her three previous books have helped several of the women that I know to get pregnant, at times when doctors were shaking their heads. Yet, no matter the rate of success, Emma’s feet remain firmly on the ground, with no airs & graces when it comes to her multiple talents. She is driven by innate desire to help as many couples as she can, as well as women in general, who need to fine-tune the optimal functioning of their bodies.  In addition to her work in the clinic & writing books, Emma publishes a blog, full of practical & relatable advice that is relevant to women of different ages, irrespective of their lifestyle choices. No less importantly, Emma takes responsibility for advice that she gives, so suffice to say that the publication of this book intrigued me.

Fertility – engage in it, yet keep a lightness to your touch

This beautifully photographed hardback, with a cheerful yellow inner cover, offers practical advice & fact- checked information alongside delicious recipes by nutritionist Victoria Wells, who works alongside Emma in the clinic in Chelsea.

Emma’s now classic ‘Baby-Making bible’ came out when times were perfectly aligned for Emma, after she beat cancer & her heart was brimming with joy. In a way it was her love letter to life, to the future, to the women & her own daughters. ‘Fertile: Nourish and Balance Your Body ready for Baby Making’, Emma’s fourth book, is a bit different, as it has ‘hidden depth & deeper meaning’, according to Emma. Her latest book combines many years of experience in the clinic, as well as Emma’s personal journey as a woman, alongside deliciously nurturing recipes created by Victoria & tested by both women, as the importance of food should never be underestimated when it comes to physical & mental well-being.

The book is divided into two part, ‘A Fertile Life’ & ‘Recipies’. In the first part Emma focusses on such topics as fertile living & fundamentals, like a menstrual cycle, examining body-mind-gut connection, egg quality, miscarriage, IVF support & male fertility. I tend to read lots of books, blogs & magazines as part of my own writing research & often coverage of several of the above subjects seems to be lacking, particularly when you read on the subject of female fertility. Somehow, even in our day & age, fertility issues are more often ‘blamed’ on women, as opposed to looking at the subject with a 360 view. Emma is one of those fiercely passionate women who values knowledge & experience above social media followers number and I would rather my own daughter takes advice from Emma in the future, than from some ‘influencer’ or foodie blogger, whose professional scope is limited to say the least.

When you tend to the garden you don’t seek to control it; take the same approach with[...] read more

Boxwalla February Book Box

Ever since I was a child reading was one of my favourite pastimes. It started with my parents & on occasion my aunt reading to me, alongside the most magnificently imaginative stories my paternal grandfather made up for me every morning before breakfast, when I was staying with him and grandma. As I grew up, I truly caught the reading bug from my parents, who were voracious readers. I could lose time reading and exploring the world through books, but now that I am older and have two kids of my own, time for my own reading, unrelated to children or work, is becoming more precious, if not scarce. For me reading is akin to a love affair, which takes you on an amazing journey into unchartered waters. Recently I was lucky to experience the magic of Boxwalla February book box and in a way it reignited my love affair with reading, ensuring that I actually make time for daily reading, no matter when or where – I simply have to read, even for half an hour!

Lavanya and her husband, founders of the Boxwalla, are ‘nerdy aethetes’, according to their own description, and they offer monthly or one-off book, film, beauty or food ( US only ) subscription boxes. Lavanya is clearly an intellectual, yet her choice of books is hardly intimidating, even for those who like ‘easy’ reading. She selects the most unusual books from the authors around the world, chooses the theme and fills each box with ‘things that must be experienced’. All of the chosen books & writers are ‘must reads’, even though some aren’t as widely known, as they deserve to be – Lavanya considers each author they feature to be a ‘prospective Nobel Laureate’. Even though one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, sometimes you innately start with exactly that. When I caught sight of one of the book covers in the February’s box, themed ‘Once Upon a Time I Loved a Bear’, I felt like a child in the candy store, simply NEEDING to get my hands on “Memoirs of a Polar Bear’. Lavanya very kindly indulged me and has sent me the box.

The timing couldn’t have been better and when the postman delivered the box straight into the open palms of my hands, I felt like a small girl on the cusp of an[...] read more

Spring Wellbeing Tips

After a long, cold and dump winter we all long for the warmth and cheer of spring sunshine, unmistakable bird song outside our window and emergence of new green grass and flowers. But as winter gives way to spring, our body’s energy shifts and all of a sudden we look grey and feel tired, even little ones becoming grumpier. So, what to do? While I won’t make any drastic suggestions, I thought I would share the little things that together make me feel and, hopefully, look better too.

The Book: ‘Mindful beauty’ was written by the 80s supermodel Estelle Lefebvre and published by Flammarion. Before you contain your yawn and think that reading her book is not going to make you or me look like her, let me share some of her tips, which I believe to be very effective for modern, hectic lifestyle most of us lead in the city. This is not about ‘supermodel’ wisdom, but rather a wise and inquisitive female distilling her life’s experience and common sense into a book. Below is the list of some of my favourite bullit points from the book (the rest you can read yourself in the book, if you so choose):

  • Give your body a break once a week by

[...] read more